These sweet, soft and tasty saffron buns (Lussekatter) are eaten in Sweden from the beginning of december up until christmas. They are traditional fare on Santa Lucia day, 13th of december. The addition of saffron tends to dry out the buns after baking and make them go stale. Therefore it´s recommended to eat them the same day – or put them in the freezer after baking.
Swedish saffron buns
400 g milk
100 g cream
200 g butter
50 g fresh yeast
1 g saffron threads (crush together with some sugar)
180 g sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1000 g white wheat, all purpose flour (around 1,6-1,7 liters)
1 egg, beaten
Put the yeast in small pieces into the bowl of your stand mixer (or normal bowl, if making this by hand). Melt the butter in a pan, then add the milk and the cream and heat until it’s around 37°C – it should just barely feel warm to the touch. Add the milk/cream/butter to the yeast and stir until it has dissolved.
UPDATE December 2009: Instead of melting the butter with the milk, a professional baker gave me the tip to leave the butter in room temperature so that it softens, and then add it little by little as the last ingredient. That is, spoon it into your working stand mixer AFTER having added the flour. This gives the brioche an even “fluffier” texture.
Put the saffron with a pinch of sugar in your pestle and mortar, and crush well. Add this to the liquid and mix well, then the salt, the sugar and most of the flour. Work well into a smooth and silky dough – it will be pretty sticky, so add the rest of the flour. If it´s still sticky – don´t worry. It’s supposed to be. Because of the relatively high fat content it won´t stick too bad to your fingers anyway.
Let the dough rise, covered, until it has at least doubled in size, 30-60 minutes depending on room temperature.
Time to shape the buns. Cut the dough up in equal portions (easy with a digital kitchen scales – I usually go for 50-60 grams). Roll out each piece of dough on the table with your hands to form a shape of a short rope. Then roll in one end of the rope towards the middle and stop halfway. Then take the opposite end and roll it the same way but in opposite direction. This should form something “S”-shaped.
Place the buns on parchment-lined baking sheets, stick a raisin in each “curl”, cover and let rise for 15-20 minutes. Brush with the beaten egg and put in a 200 degree oven for about 8-12 minutes.
Take good care to not cook the buns too long, they should be golden brown on top but still VERY soft in the center when they come out of the oven.
GOD JUL – MERRY CHRISTMAS – BUON NATALE – JOYEUX NOËL